Iraq's general elections are likely to be postponed after Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi (pictured) and the parliament failed to agree on the terms of a crucial electoral law over sectarian representation.
Iraq’s latest political crisis began on November 18, when Al-Hashemi vetoed the election law on the grounds that it would discriminate against the large number of Iraqis, mostly Sunnis or Christians, who fled the country after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.
But Hashemi’s key demand of tripling the Iraqi diaspora representation from 5% to 15% in the next 323-seat parliament was rejected by Shiites and Kurdish lawmakers on Monday. Sunni representatives reacted angrily, saying that Al-Hashemi was likely to once again reject the amended election law, further prolonging the deadlock over the stalled legislation.
According to the Iraqi constitution, an electoral law must be passed at least 60 days before the election takes place and the election has to be held before January 31st.
Some analysts fear that postponing the vote could set a dangerous precedent and weaken the country’s fledging institutions. They say the parliament could eventually revoke the vice-presidential veto by holding a 3/5 vote in favour of the amended electoral law, but insist that such a move would likely trigger fresh sectarian wrangling.
Al-Hashemi’s unexpected veto has been described as grandstanding ahead of the country’s nationwide elections.
“Al-Hashemi probably knew this percentage was not reasonable and he’s basically in the process of bargaining with the parliament. In the end, I expect he would agree to a rise to 7 or 8 percent of the seats for Iraqis in the diaspora”, says Al-Hakim.
“What Al-Hashemi is doing is some electoral propaganda to increase his clout among minorities in Iraq”, Al-Hakim added.
A major delay could also affect the US military’s plan to end combat operations by August 31. The United States has been lobbying hard for the election to take place as scheduled in January. Christopher Hill, the US ambassador for Iraq, has repeatedly to try and smooth the progress of this key legislation.
This crucial election would be the second nationwide ballot since the ousting of Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein in the 2003 US-led invasion.
Date created : 2009-11-24